The Police have opened an investigation into alleged racial abuse from fans during Haringey Borough and Yeovil Town’s FA Cup match on Saturday, which was abandoned after Haringey’s manager took his team off the pitch.
The two sides were playing in the fourth round of FA Cup qualifying when Haringey goalkeeper Douglas Pajetat was reportedly spat at and had objects thrown at him.
Defender Coby Rowe was also “racially abused” according to manager Tom Loizou, who took the decision to remove his players from the field of play.
“We conceded a penalty and my goalkeeper went to the side of the goal to have a drink and he was spat at and a bottle was thrown at him,” Loizou said after the match.
“A second bottle was thrown at him and just before that, there was a few unsavory words said to him as well.
“The referee halted the game. He saw the spit, he saw the bottle being thrown and then another missile came onto the pitch, which hit the goalkeeper.
“Then there was a little bit of a delay. They took the penalty and scored and my number six, Coby Rowe, went to pick the ball out of the back of the net with one of their players, both trying to get the ball.
“One trying to delay the kick-off and the other trying to get the game started, as you do.
“Coby Rowe was racially abused. The majority of the players heard it. The referee said he didn’t hear it.
“But there was more than one person who heard it. The Yeovil Town players tried to calm down the supporters. I saw the effect it had on Coby Rowe and a couple of other players.
“The referee was trying to get the game restarted. There was a group of players in the penalty box and I took one look at Coby Rowe’s face and my captain’s face and I walked on the pitch and said to the referee ‘I’m taking my players off until you sort it out.’”
Sorry for the late update but wanted to make sure we gave correct information.
Game has been abandoned following racial abuse. Horrendous afternoon.
It must be said that 99.9% of @YTFC fans are also disgusted by what’s happened as much as we are.
One club, one community.
— Haringey Borough FC (@HaringeyBoroFC) October 19, 2019
Alongside the Police, the FA have also opened their own line of investigation and say they are “deeply concerned” about the allegations.
“There is no room for discrimination in our game and we are working with the match officials and the relevant authorities, as a matter of urgency, to fully establish the facts and take the appropriate steps,” said an FA statement.
The incident comes just days after the England national team suffered racist abuse during their Euro 2020 qualifying win in Bulgaria.
“I don’t know how we’re going to replay it”
In the end, the match was abandoned and Loizou admitted he would rather it wasn’t rescheduled, saying that although Haringey Borough would financially benefit from the game, the safety of his players will always come first.
When asked if he wanted a potential reply, Loizou responded: “Not really. The FA Cup last season we had a fantastic experience but everything has been taken away from us today. What we have had to go through to get this game on, the safety aspect, refreshments, food and then volunteers getting abused as well from what I’m hearing.
Unity in diversity pic.twitter.com/Ax3MhWa7O5
— Tom Loizou (@Growler1Tom) October 20, 2019
“The money would have been good. The experience would have been good but I can’t subject my players to this. It’s up to the officials what they want to do. The safety of my players comes first.
“Personally, I don’t know how we are going to replay it. It is up to the authorities. My players wanted to play. They didn’t want to come off the pitch. If the players want to play a replay and we are given one then we will play it. We are not going to say no.
“It’s just so fresh in our minds at the moment. We all need to go home and sleep on it and re-gather our thoughts.”
Loizou also praised Yeovil Town for their support and reaction to the incident.
“Yeovil’s players and manager were different class,” he added. “Their team tried to calm their supporters down, they tried their best and they supported us – they said ‘if you’re walking off, we’re walking off with you’.
“I took the decision to take my team off and I don’t want Yeovil Town to get punished for it. If we get thrown out of the FA Cup and they go through, there is no hard feelings there.”